By Alex Davidson
An Ozone Park bakery owner who knew John Freddy, the only Queens victim of a serial murderer, was relieved this week to hear the Police Department had a suspect in custody in the killing spree that left four immigrants dead.
Larme Price, 30, of 1225 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn is accused of killing Freddy and three other immigrants in a rash of similar deli murders during a two-month period, police said. The other three victims were shot to death while working in Brooklyn stores.
Cops said Price, who turned himself into authorities Sunday, confessed to the crimes and said he carried out the killings following bouts of paranoia about people of Middle Eastern background that stemmed from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Peter Filippi, the owner of Rosa Maria bakery across the street from the Associated Supermarket where Freddy managed the dairy department, said it made him feel more secure in his neighborhood knowing that a killer was no longer on the loose.
“Who knows where he would have struck next,” he said. “I think it's great they have someone. The next one could've been me.”
Filippi said Freddy was a good-natured man and a regular customer at his bakery.
Freddy, 43, was shot in the head and killed Feb. 8 about 6:50 a.m. while sipping a cup of coffee at 76-20 Liberty Ave., the address of a deli he frequented before going across the street to start his work day at the market, police said.
He was charged Tuesday with four counts of first-degree murder in Brooklyn Criminal Court, police said. Authorities said the charges could allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty.
Price is alleged to have killed Sukhji Khajala, 50, at his store at 5803 Avenue N in Mill Basin less than two hours after shooting Freddy Feb. 8, cops said. He is also charged in connection with the deaths of Albert Kotlyar, 32, a laundry store employee at 1392 Atlantic Ave., shot in Bedford-Stuyvesant at 6 a.m. March 10 and Mohammed Abdul Nasser Ali, 54, shot at 10 a.m. March 20 in a Crown Heights store located at 1291 Eastern Parkway.
Two of the victims were South Asian, one Middle Eastern and one Ukrainian.
No one at the Associated Supermarket where Freddy worked was available for comment after the arrest. The owners of the deli where Freddy was shot were away on vacation, a store worker said.
A special task force was set up in the wake of the killings that included more than 20 detectives whose sole mission was to investigate the crime spree, police said. During the two-month period, police offered rewards amounting to more than $12,000 for any information or tips leading to the suspect's arrest.
Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 156